Special Coverage

Soft Robot “Walks” on Any Terrain
Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency
Using Microwaves to Produce High-Quality Graphene
Transducer-Actuator Systems for On-Machine Measurements and Automatic Part Alignment
Wide-Area Surveillance Using HD LWIR Uncooled Sensors
Heavy Lift Wing in Ground (WIG) Cargo Flying Boat
Technique Provides Security for Multi-Robot Systems
Bringing New Vision to Laser Material Processing Systems
NASA Tests Lasers’ Ability to Transmit Data from Space
Converting from Hydraulic Cylinders to Electric Actuators
Automating Optimization and Design Tasks Across Disciplines

Smart Actuators Add Brains to Automation Brawn

Integrated electronics let smart actuators perform enhanced control functions that were previously external, such as switching, position feedback, and system diagnostics.

Actuators have always been on the frontline of automation, providing the “push and pull” that extends human capabilities to operate everything from delicate pick-and-place applications to 10-ton agricultural combines. Now, as the industrial world becomes increasingly digitized and connected, a new generation of actuators is fulfilling that role with more intelligence, simplicity, and economy, while overcoming increasingly challenging environmental conditions.

Posted in: Articles, Motion Control, Electronic equipment, Sensors and actuators, Switches, Electronic equipment, Sensors and actuators, Switches, Automation, Robotics
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Eliminate Interference from Converter Output

Motor chokes, sine wave filters, and EMC sine wave filters can help suppress the electromagnetic interference at a frequency converter’s output.

Electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) in frequency converters can be very problematic if not addressed properly in the initial design. EMC ensures the proper operation of devices to avoid negative electromagnetic interference (EMI) effects. Good design takes into account the control, design, and function of each device to prevent such interference.

Posted in: Articles, Motion Control, Electromagnetic compatibility, Electromagnetic compatibility, Chokes
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Micromachined Sensors Monitor Train Rails and Predict Failures

Sensors designed to predict helicopter transmission failures are now used to detect problems in train tracks.

Spinoff is NASA's annual publication featuring successfully commercialized NASA technology. This commercialization has contributed to the development of products and services in the fields of health and medicine, consumer goods, transportation, public safety, computer technology, and environmental resources.

Posted in: Articles, Sensors, Failure analysis, Sensors and actuators, Sensors and actuators, Railway vehicles and equipment
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Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) was created with a national sense of urgency in February 1958 amidst one of the most dramatic moments in the history of the Cold War and the already-accelerating pace of technology. In the months preceding the official authorization for the agency's creation, the Soviet Union had launched an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM), as well as the world's first satellite, Sputnik 1.

Posted in: Articles, Defense, Defense industry, Historical reference, Research and development
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Products of Tomorrow: August 2017

This column presents technologies that have applications in commercial areas, possibly creating the products of tomorrow. To learn more about each technology, see the contact information provided for that innovation.

Posted in: Articles, Batteries, Electronics, Coatings & Adhesives, Materials, Batteries, Batteries, Ceramics, Coatings Colorants and Finishes, Coatings, colorants, and finishes, Corrosion, Electrolytes, Insulation, Rescue and emergency vehicles and equipment
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Using Formal Methods for Engineering Embedded Systems

Between 1985 and 1987, a radiation therapy device called the Therac-25 was involved in at least six incidents in which the device delivered massive overdoses of radiation. The patients involved suffered radiation burns and symptoms of radiation poisoning. Three of those patients eventually died, all because of a latent software bug. A race condition had gone undetected. It was a test case no one had thought to define.

Posted in: Articles, Software, Embedded software, Embedded software, Medical equipment and supplies, Systems engineering, Quality assurance, Quality assurance
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National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) was founded in 1901, and is now part of the U.S. Department of Commerce. Based in Gaithersburg, MD, it was established to remove a major challenge to U.S. industrial competitiveness at the time — a second-rate measurement infrastructure that lagged behind the capabilities of the United Kingdom, Germany, and other economic rivals.

Posted in: Articles, Research Lab, Test & Measurement, Cyber security, Imaging, Imaging and visualization, Cyber security, Imaging, Imaging and visualization, Medical equipment and supplies, Standardization, Semiconductors
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The Future of Wearable Technology

The U.S. Army uses wired and wireless systems to monitor real-time performance and safe operating limits of vehicles and aircraft, but no comparable systems exist for soldiers. New wearable technologies could change that.

Posted in: Articles, Sensors, Computer software / hardware, Computer software and hardware, Electronic equipment, Sensors and actuators, Computer software / hardware, Computer software and hardware, Electronic equipment, Sensors and actuators, Human factors, Medical equipment and supplies, Physical examination
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LAB-ON-A-GLOVE: Enables Onsite Detection of Chemical Threats

Wearable sensors are uniquely placed to fill the technology gap for real-time analytics at the point of need. Seamless integration of chemical sensors into wearable platforms gives the power of laboratory-based chemical analyses directly on the wearer's body. Several biosensors, based primarily on enzyme electrodes, have been incorporated recently into cutting-edge wearable devices to allow non-invasive sensing of lactate, glucose, or alcohol in sweat; uric acid in saliva; and glucose in tears. While the majority of these wearable sensor systems has focused on fitness and healthcare applications, there are growing demands for developing wearable sensor platforms for monitoring hazardous chemicals for diverse security and environmental applications.

Posted in: Articles, Data Acquisition, Detectors, Sensors and actuators, Sensors and actuators, Chemicals, Materials identification, Hazardous materials, Protective clothing
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Blue-Light-Canceling Lens Gives Skiers a Clearer View

An optical filter for assessing plant health finds use in ski goggles.

Spinoff is NASA’s annual publication featuring successfully commercialized NASA technology. This commercialization has contributed to the development of products and services in the fields of health and medicine, consumer goods, transportation, public safety, computer technology, and environmental resources.

Posted in: Articles, Optical Components, Optics, Optics, Optics, Terrain, Human factors, Coatings Colorants and Finishes, Coatings, colorants, and finishes, Polymers, Visibility
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